Tastes Of Thailand - A Few Tips & Anecdotes, by Chef Michael Finizia / by Eric Monteiro

Challenged with the task of creating a three-day menu for 70 food and beverage directors of a prestigious international hotel chain, I partnered with a colleague from Laos to create a food experience these “foodies” had never tasted before! This taught me about oriental flavors beyond your typical Saturday night takeout.

I have always been fond of Asian cuisine, especially Thai which offers a healthy balance, offering plenty of alternatives to traditional fried oriental dishes. The beautiful aromas of Thai basil and the intensely spicy tiny Thai chili peppers perk up my taste buds instantly. From mild to wild, the balance of spice is key.

Thai Red Chilis

When it's time to heat the wok, be sure to bring out the best, and that means your rice too. Jasmine rice is a staple from the fields of Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. But to be called “Jasmine,” it must be pure, and much like the flower, the purity of jasmine rice is reflected in its white color. Culinary precision is required when cooking rice to a light, fluffy, cloud-like texture, and Jasmine rice has its starchy side too, so to achieve best results give it a nice rinse while stirring it in abundant cold water before cooking. Patience is required for perfect rice, remember to rinse, heat, simmer, rest and fluff; allowing it to rest before fluffing is an important step to ensure a rice that will be able to draw as much attention as your wok performance!

What is easily overlooked, but brings any dining experience to its full potential is the pairing of an authentic beverage, so when I am drawn to that taste of Pad Gra Prow (Thai Basil Beef) or Pad Woon Sen (Thai Stir-fry Glass noodles,) I complete my dining experience with delicious Thai Iced Tea, which is strong tea poured over condensed milk and sugar on ice.